Tackling the Ordering Process Issue: Going online

by Willie Biggart

The following scene is probably repeated in catering establishments across the country on a daily basis. A busy kitchen has an urgent order to be filled. Vegetables are being chopped and prepped; a food mixer is whirring while the radio blares; and somewhere in the distance a telephone can be heard faintly ringing. If this seems familiar then perhaps you can also picture the reluctance of staff to stop what they are doing, first washing their hands before answering the phone; if they pick up the phone in time.

It is surely not surprising that innumerable business calls are simply left unanswered. While caterers may console themselves with the thought that either the caller will simply call back when they are less busy or leave a message on the answer machine, the harsh reality is that invariably they won’t. It is estimated that 85 per cent of missed business callers simply don’t call back as they go onto the next name that comes up on their search engine. Even the safety net of an answering machine won't save the order, as a further 50 per cent of business callers do not leave a message.

But it is not just lost orders, a missed call sends a message that your company is too small, not well enough organized , or is simply not ready to take on new business. And if the call is answered either electronically or by a member of staff, there is no guarantee the order will be entered correctly.

There is a solution to the age old problem of missed calls-ordering online. It seems that technology has advanced so that we shop, bank and even date online yet many companies don't have the ability to order their corporate catering online. The simplicity of ordering drop off catering this way is that immediately there is no lost business by missing a call, nor are members of staff tied up by answering the phone. And while it is quite easy to misunderstand an order number, it is quite impossible to misread one.

An online ordering system, such as the one created by Spoonfed, allows corporate customers to amend and cancel orders before the cut-off times, while giving them a permanent record of previous orders which allows the placing of a repeat order immediately without waiting for a response from the caterer. Furthermore, a confirmation email gives the customers confidence that the caterer has their order in hand, allowing them to relax and wait for the delivery.

Allowing a customer to self serve – create, amend and cancel – quickly and easily puts them in control, guarantees no mis-interpretations and saves caterers time and therefore money. Finally, if the orders taken online are seamlessly integrated with the back of house order creation process, the question really is, why would anyone not?

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